Pelosi defends lawmakers’ right to trade stocks: ‘We are a free market economy’

There is a law on the books — fittingly known as the STOCK Act — that purportedly requires members of Congress to make timely and transparent reports of all stock transactions and prohibits them from trading based on insider knowledge. But numerous reports have revealed the law is being routinely violated on Capitol Hill, and Americans want answers.

With that in mind, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was pressed by journalists Wednesday on whether members of Congress should be banned entirely from trading stocks during their tenures in office, the Washington Examiner reported. It was nothing short of shocking when the fierce leftist defended lawmakers’ ostensible right to participate in the “free market economy.”

“We are a free market economy”

Pelosi doesn’t personally trade any stocks, but her husband Paul is a prolific and successful investor, which, by virtue of their union, makes Pelosi one of the wealthiest members of Congress, as the Examiner notes.

During the speaker’s weekly news conference Wednesday, a reporter cited a recent months-long investigative report that revealed at least 49 members of Congress and at least 182 senior staffers had violated the STOCK Act this year alone.

The journalist asked for the congresswoman’s reaction to that news, as well as whether members and their spouses should be barred from trading individual stocks. “No, I don’t — no, to the second one,” Pelosi replied, according to a transcript provided by her office. “Any — we have a responsibility to report in the stock — on the stock. But I don’t — I’m not familiar with that five-month review, but if the people aren’t reporting, they should be.”

Asked why members and their spouses shouldn’t be banned, the speaker said, “Because this is a free market and people — we are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”

Ethics violations abound

The report mentioned by the journalist Wednesday came from Business Insider, which compiled its own findings alongside other outlets’ reports to document the dozens of known violations of the STOCK Act by members of Congress and their senior staffers.

Most of the violations were relatively minor, such as missing the 45-day window to file a transaction report for trades worth more than $1,000. But some of the violations appeared to be more significant.

That included transactions made on insider knowledge that only a member of Congress would be privy to, like the existence of impending legislation or regulations that could have an impact on the value of a particular position.

Insider noted that most of the violations were explained away as “ignorance of the law, clerical errors, and mistakes by an accountant,” however. And even those members who were found to have violated the ethics law were given a mere slap on the wrist and a $200 fine, if any punishment was doled out at all.

“Should never have to guess”

Amid the controversy, even some members of Congress are now calling for much more severe consequences for STOCK Act violations. That includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a frequent thorn in Pelosi’s side who wrote in a tweet last week:

It is absolutely ludicrous that members of Congress can hold and trade individual stock while in office. The access and influence we have should be exercised for the public interest, not our profit. It shouldn’t be legal for us to trade individual stock with the info we have.

AOC’s sentiment was echoed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who told Insider this week, “The American people should never have to guess whether or not an elected official is advancing an issue or voting on a bill based on what’s good for the country or what’s good for their own personal financial interests.”

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